Community center being explored in Herkimer County

September 11th, 2017 — ( )

HERKIMER — A community center serving the needs of seniors and youths could be heading to Herkimer County.

Herkimer County HealthNet is conducting a community needs assessment to plan for an intergenerational community center using a $19,722 grant from the Community Foundation of Herkimer and Oneida Counties. The center, if it comes to fruition, would serve residents along the Mohawk Valley corridor, including Herkimer, Ilion, Little Falls, Frankfort, Mohawk and Dolgeville.

Herkimer County does not have a senior center or a community center. It’s not yet clear where the center would be located, how it would be paid for or who would operate it.

The idea for the center sprang from a 2016 community needs assessment by the Community Foundation that identified some needs among the county’s seniors, including for a senior center they could visit every day, affordable day and evening respite care to help family caregivers, and a program of inclusive care for seniors.

But research has shown the merits of making the center intergenerational, said HealthNet Executive Director Thomas Curnow.

“We’re trying to move away from serving people in silos,” he said. “So some of the advantages of an intergenerational center are that it can create social networks that build connections across ages, it can facilitate communication across generations, it can help to integrate accessible health and social services, it can promote interdependence across generations.

“And I think there’s also an advantage to potential funding in that it also starts to break down some of those funding silos. We feel there is a real potential here to make an impact in the community.”

The needs assessment, which probably will take place in early 2018, will be done in three phases, Curnow said: an “imagining” phase to determine what the community desires; a design phase to plan programming, location, support services, etc.; and a “create” phase to make more detailed plans on issue such as cost and partner organizations.

For the first phase, HealthNet is getting input from community leaders, seniors and youth, Curnow said.

“So our purpose in this first phase,” he said, “is to really hear directly from those three groups what they think the needs are and what they see might be the benefits of this multi-generational community center and what they might like that to look like.”